You read it right. This dreamy looking pasta dish is so creamy, luscious and delicious even your taste buds won't believe it's not made with dairy. Vegan tortellini is tossed with spinach, peas and a silky white cream sauce that is perfectly satisfying and comforting. It's simple enough to make during the week, but special enough to serve when entertaining. This vegan tortellini Alfredo is one meal you don't want to miss!
Alfredo Sauce Ingredients
With all the delicious substitutes for regular butter and milk, it's fairly simple to transform dairy-based dishes into similar plant-based versions. For this recipe, I start off making a roux, which is similar to how you'd make a regular Alfredo sauce. But the star ingredient in this recipe is cauliflower. Cauliflower not only helps to give the sauce its thick texture, it also adds tremendous flavor. The cauliflower blends so nicely into the sauce, even picky eaters and non-veggie lovers will find it hard to resist. Here's a list of ingredients you'll need to make this amazing, all natural plant-based Alfredo sauce:
- Shallots & Garlic- give the sauce a rich, oniony flavor base.
- Dairy free butter - provides an additional layer of silky creaminess, but you could also use olive oil as well (I recommend using unsalted butter sticks from Earth Balance).
- All purpose flour- just a small amount helps to thicken the sauce.
- Cauliflower florets - help to the thicken and add rich flavor to the sauce (using pre-cut and washed cauliflower florets makes things easier).
- Low Sodium Vegetable Broth- helps add extra dimension and flavor.
- Plant-Based Milk- together with the cauliflower creates the creamy, luscious texture. I recommend using almond milk.
- Vegan parmesan cheese- blended into the sauce for that classic salty, cheesy punch (we love Follow Your Heart shredded parmesan).
- Nutmeg- adds a nutty aromatic flavor that is an absolute must in cream based sauces.
- Thyme- fresh leaves add a warm, mildly floral flavor that complements the sauce.
- Salt & Pepper- are the finishing touches.
We enjoy Kite Hill's vegan tortellini. But you can use whatever tortellini you like.
How to Make Vegan Tortellini Alfredo
If you choose, you can make the sauce ahead of time and reheat it prior to mixing in with the tortellini. But, it really is easy enough to make the pasta and the sauce all at one time if you follow this order:
- Toss the cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl with water and microwave for about 10 min to completely soften (the softer the better).
- While cauliflower is cooking, fill a large pot of water for the tortellini and begin to boil.
- While you are waiting for the water to boil, in a medium sized sauté pan start making the sauce.
- As the sauce is simmering and thickening, toss the tortellini into the boiling water.
- Allow the sauce to cool slightly before very carefully transfering to a blender along with the cooked cauliflower.
- Toss the cooked tortellini back into the sauté pan with spinach, peas and pour the sauce over the top (the spinach will wilt slightly once it comes into contact with the heat of the pasta and sauce).
You can make this recipe your own by changing around a few ingredients. You can even use regular milk and butter for this recipe if you prefer. Here are suggestions for other variations:
Pick a different pasta- this sauce goes with just about any type of pasta so go ahead and explore some of your favorites. Fettuccini, fusilli and ravioli are other great options.
Make it gluten-free- by using gluten-free pasta and omitting the flour in the sauce. It may not turn out as thick, but the cauliflower gives it enough texture to be creamy.
Change up your veggies- I chose to use spinach and defrosted frozen peas for this recipe because they don't require any additional cook time. But you can substitute other vegetables such as cooked asparagus, kale, collard greens, chard, arugula...the sky's the limit.
Vegan Alfredo Sauce
- 4 cups cauliflower florets
- 2 tbsp butter you can use olive oil if you prefer *see notes
- 1 shallot 1 large or 2 small
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup almond milk
- ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tbsp vegan parmesean cheese
- ¼ tsp coarse salt
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground pepper
- To a large microwaveable bowl add cauliflower and enough water just to cover.
- Microwave for about 10 minutes or until completely soft, then drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat a medium saute pan on medium high heat.
- Add half the butter and allow to melt.
- Add shallots and saute for about 5-7 minutes until translucent and soft.
- Add the garlic and saute until fragrant about 30 seconds.
- Add the flour to the pan and allow to cook about 2-3 minutes, stirring the pan often but being careful not to let the flour burn.
- Add the broth, milk and thyme leaves and whisk to incorporate ingredients.
- Lower the heat to medium and continue to whisk often and until mixture thickens about 8-10min.
- Stir in the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
- Allow sauce to cool slightly about 5 min.
- Very carefully transfer the sauce to a blender along with the cooked cauliflower, parmesean cheese and remaining butter.
- Blend until completely smooth and velvety.
- Use immediately or store in an air tight container for up to 3-4 days.
Vegan Tortellini with Alfredo Sauce
- 2 cups Vegan Alfredo Sauce (if cooking ahead make sure to reheat before pouring over tortellini).
- 1-1.5 lbs. tortellini recommend Kite Hill vegan tortellini and I used 2 packages for this recipe
- 1 cup frozen peas defrosted ahead of time
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
- parmesean cheese optional but recommended
- freshly ground pepper
- Cook tortellini according to package instructions.
- Add tortellini to a large bowl.
- Combine the spinach and peas with the tortellini and pour warmed sauce over top.
- Gently stir together to combine (the heat from the pasta and sauce will be enough to warm the peas and wilt the spinach slightly).
- Serve with additional parmesean cheese and freshly ground pepper if desired.